CarePlus SUN to Streamline Services to Address Youth Substance Use

Care Plus NJ, Inc. (CarePlus) has been selected as the recipient of the Substance Use Navigator (SUN) grant from the New Jersey Division of Children and Families (DCF). The purpose of the grant is to increase understanding of adolescent substance use needs and maximize available resources.

“CarePlus has a longstanding collaboration with DCF,” explained Nicole McQuillen, Vice President of Children and Family Services at CarePlus. “Our experience and outcomes have shown that children with behavioral health challenges can remain stable in the community and avoid out-of-home placement through a complete continuum of care.”

The SUN will provide consultation to community providers, Children’s System of Care (CSOC) system partners, families, advisory groups, and governmental entities serving or advocating for youth (under 21 years of age) with substance use challenges and residing in Bergen County. The SUN will be part of a state-wide network of Navigators that will inform DCF of changes needed to increase access to substance use services and address a mounting public health crisis.

“CarePlus has managed Bergen County’s Children Mobile Response and Stabilization System (CMRSS) for over 16 years, a program that has the capacity to serve as a crucial point of access for families seeking substance use treatment” McQuillen continued. “Plus, with our clinical presence in local school districts, we will be able provide exclusive information about community needs at the ground level.”

The SUN will facilitate communication and coordination across partnering organizations and systems. Community needs, existing programs, and new initiatives will be presented to local Stigma-Free task forces, the Community Health Improvement Project Mental Health and Addictions Task Force, the Mental Health Board, and other provider and public platforms.

“Our ability to build cooperative relationships has been pivotal to the success of the targeted population,” commented Katherine Coleman, Director of Addiction Services at CarePlus. “For example, the Heroin Addiction Recovery Team (HART), which works to coordinate with local service providers to ensure seamless transitions between levels of addiction treatment. The HART program has established an access point for treatment at the Paramus Police Department, and it demonstrates our innovative and collaborative relationships within the community.”

The Children’s Interagency Coordinating Council meetings will be a critical forum to discuss systemic issues, barriers, and trends. Presentations and trainings can also be completed for parent groups, school faculty, and through regular collaboration with youth psycho-education programs.

Through these efforts, the SUN will be able to evaluate overall system functioning based on data gathered from community entities. The SUN will provide a complementary role to existing entities by aggregating and analyzing interagency data. It is important to note that the SUN will function as a community organizer and consultant rather than a clinician.

For additional information, please contact Katherine Coleman, ED.M, MA, LPC, LCADC at (201) 986-5045.